UK cult favorites Wire are a band with many associations. For some, they’re the group that Elastica ripped off in their 90s hit “Connection.” (Didn’t know about this? Compare it against “Three Girl Rhumba” and let your head spin for a minute.) Others might have found out about them when R.E.M. covered their song “Strange” in the 1980s (eventually landing on their 1987 album Document). Others still may have discovered them from a college roommate who would not stop going on about how incredible and influential of a record Pink Flag is; and that roommate would have been right.
Released in 1977, the album occupies its own singular place in the rock canon – too arty and ambitious for punk, too scuzzy and grimy for art rock. It pushed boundaries of the era’s musical vocabulary, introducing the idea of minimalism in sound (very sparse arrangements, little overdubbing) and scope (most songs under two minutes) to achieve a maximal output (loud, aggressive, emotional). Without it, there would be no Sonic Youth, no Fugazi or Blur, no Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And lest the band’s career be reduced to a single 37-minute album, the 1978 followup Chairs Missing is equally essential (and perhaps under-appreciated), and 1979’s 154 is also worth your while to seek out.
You’ll want to do that in the next couple months, since a reunited Wire is rolling through Philadelphia on July 13th to play at Union Transfer. They’ll have a new album in tow – Change Becomes Us, their 13th studio album – and they’ll doubtless be diving through their extensive back-catalogue. Tickets go on sale next Friday, April 5th, at Union Transfer’s website. Below, watch the band perform “I Feel Mysterious Today” on German television in 1979. After the jump, a handful of Wire tracks we’re fond of.
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